February 24, 2020

Keeping Children Safe

“The Nursery is like family to me, I don’t know where we would be without you,”
said Megan, a Yolo Crisis Nursery parent.


Every child deserves a safe and loving place to be and the Yolo Crisis Nursery provides just that. The Yolo Crisis Nursery has made a positive change in the lives of over 5,000 children and families since opening our doors in 2001. We work to prevent child abuse and neglect while helping parents resolve the crises that brought them to the Nursery. The impact of these services on local children, families and our community are best understood through our clients’ stories, such as Megan’s.

Megan managed to keep her family together and her 2 and 4 year old children safe by living with her mother. When her mother unexpectedly passed away, Megan’s life slowly and steadily spiraled out of control. Without her mother, Megan was unable to pay the rent by herself, and she soon lost their home, leaving her and her children homeless.

Pregnant, and with her young children in tow, Megan couch-surfed at friends’ homes for a while. To make matters even worse, unanticipated car repairs began to wear her down, and Megan sank into a deep depression. Fortunately, this young, pregnant Yolo County mom found her way to the Yolo Crisis Nursery.

The Nursery wrapped Megan and her children with loving care from the moment they arrived. “We cared for the kids day and night for eight days, while Megan received in-patient medical care,” said Heather Sleuter, executive director of the Yolo Crisis Nursery. “Our focus was to get Mom healthy and reduce the traumatic experiences for her children.”

After her treatments, we helped Megan find a new home. The children continued to visit the Nursery by day and spend the night in their new home. While in our care, the staff cared for the children with special attention to the lingering effects of the trauma from their grandmother’s death, their homelessness, the approaching birth of their new sibling, and their mother’s depression.

After getting settled into her new home, the Nursery staff helped Megan find a preschool closer to their new neighborhood. In the coming weeks, the children will be welcomed back to the Nursery when Megan gives birth to her third child. “The Nursery is like family to me,” said Megan, “I don’t know where we would be without you.”

“This family really illustrates why we exist,” says Heather Sleuter. “If a parent’s problems keep escalating, we aim to intervene and de-escalate the crisis, providing support so the family can remain intact and the kids suffer as little trauma as possible.”

Ninety-eight percent of families served by the Yolo Crisis Nursery do not enter the child welfare system. That figure is a key measure of the success of two of the Nursery’s signature programs: emergency/respite care for children and wrap-around services for parents. But the stories like Megan’s behind the numbers are why we are here. “We know that preventing children from separating from their parents is best whenever possible,” Heather emphasizes. “We want to protect kids not only from physical harm but from toxic stress as well.”

The Yolo Crisis Nursery’s emergency respite care is funded by the generosity of our community. It is because of this support from individuals, organizations, foundations, and businesses that we are here today to help families like Megan’s and others like them.

As the mother of two young girls myself, I cannot imagine being in Megan’s situation and it’s reassuring to know that there are many ways to help at-risk families with young children in our community. You can volunteer to hold babies, make a financial contribution, or join the Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery. I invite you to visit www.yolocrisisnursery.org to donate, get involved, or to learn more about how you can help.

— This article is written by Jennifer Thayer a Yolo Crisis Nursery board member. It originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on February 23, 2020.